by George Lubitz
Love it or hate it, Bob Dylan seems to have successfully re-defined what literature is. Well, he didn’t do anything of the sort, but the good people at the Swedish Academy think highly enough of his music’s transcendent quality that they’ve seen fit to start that ball rolling. When one thinks of literature, one probably thinks first of either a little yellow Reclam or a worn, badly-torn Penguin Classic. To many, literature is just that—a classic, canonized piece of written work defined by its age and page count. But, in the spirit of Dylan—and the portfolios of bloomers that extend beyond the written word—this month’s round-up is dedicated to bloomers who have re-imagined the tenets of literature in one way or another.
If you’ve missed the new content on the site this month, here’s a recap: We took a look at Sabrina Jones’ newest graphic novel, Our Lady of Birth Control A Cartoonists Encounter with Margaret Sanger. The bloomer-cartoonist explores the life of Margaret Sanger, her own journey as a young woman discovering the importance of sexual health, and the liberation that comes from using the pill. We spoke with Kathleen Donohoe this month, the author of Ashes of Fiery Weather. This is Donohoe’s first published novel, although she’s written two prior books which didn’t find their way to publication. We also sat down with bloomer-journalist Vanessa Hua, whose debut story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities was published last month. Hua talks much about her writing process and how it took her a while (a long while) for her stories to get published. Pamela Erens is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to being a bloomer: though her first major work was published when she was 44, she was actually first in-print at the age of 14 when her mother submitted a story she wrote at age ten!
In a literary world that fetishizes the youngest and newest writers—those with the least turnaround time between the crib and the page—it is always notable to see praise for older authors. Bloomers Desiree Cooper and Paula Whyman made Poets & Writer’s 5 Over 50 list, with excerpts from their respective books, Know the Mother and You May See a Stranger on display! Give them a look (if you haven’t already) and check out our features on both both Cooper and Whyman from earlier this year.
Talk about tearing up the rule book! Paul Beatty’s newest novel, The Sellout, has won the Man Booker Prize. Beatty is both the first American and first author of a comedic novel to do so. The satire that The Sellout uses to tackle racism in America is as subversive as it is genuinely funny, according to the consensus of critics. That being said, the book was rejected 18 times before finally going to print. While those other publishers might’ve been scared off or confused by the comedy Beatty employs to construct such a heartfelt story, the Booker jury recognized the importance of such a daring novel.
Who says literature has to be printed in a book? We now know that literature can just as easily be sung on stage or played through headphones. Perhaps one day they’ll be giving out Pushcarts for Prose in Virtual Reality. For now, though, a happy medium fits the bill just fine. Thus, it’s only fair that we shine the spotlight on film director and Bloomer-novelist Paolo Sorrentino, who has a new TV show coming out. The Young Pope follows the fictional Pope Pius XIII, portrayed by Jude Law. The Young Pope is a fitting name—not only because of the notorious age of Pius, but also considering the seasoned cast surrounding Law, like Diane Keaton and James Cromwell. It’s already receiving rave reviews! Read our look at Sorrentino’s novel Everybody’s Right here.
In a similar vein, Ruchama King Feuerman’s In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist has sold film rights! Details are scarce at the moment, but be sure to stay tuned! Also, Anjali Mitter Duva’s Faint Promise of Rain will be adapted for the stage. If you’re in the Boston area on November 2, be sure to head over to the Museum of Fine Arts to catch performances at 6 and 7:30.
In other news, Ronna Wineberg made a few splashes this month with her new story collectio, Nine Facts That Can Change Your Life: just after reading at an event in New York City, her short story, “Bare Essentials,” was featured at Seattle Review of Books.
Any fans of writer Henry Green should definitely check out Bloomer Deborah Eisenberg’s profile of the late author. From the opening paragraph: “anyone who has read several of [his books] will almost certainly have observed not only how different they are from one another, and in how many ways, but also that one of their shared features is how stunningly different they are from anybody else’s.” Let’s hear it for redefining literature!
That’s all for this month’s Bloomers at Large! In the meantime, though, be sure to take a look at all of our mentioned bloomers, read some excerpts, and stuff your bookcases/TV screens/etc. with all these new titles. Read an audio book of your favorite novel, watch an experimental interpretation of a Shakespeare poem, and broaden your horizons of literary excellence! The times, they are a-changin’, right alongside what qualifies as a great piece of literature. Thank Bob (and all of our amazing bloomers) for that.
George Lubitz is a senior at Skidmore College. His work has been featured in Gravel Magazine, The Adroit Journal, and he is the Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief at The Skidmo’ Daily, Skidmore’s satirical magazine.